5 Reasons Inversions are Awesome
Inversions are the roller coasters of yoga—you love them, or you hate them. Here at Powerflow Yoga, we live for them.
Inversions are awesome. Going upside down is an exhilarating way to make your body stronger while you calm your mind. But a lot of people get frustrated by Handstand, Forearm Stand and others. Our students ask us for tips all the time, but the truth is that there are no shortcuts. Our best advice is to practice, practice and then practice more.
You have your whole life to try going upside down. We hope you enjoy the ride. But in case you need a reminder, here are 5 Reasons Inversions are Awesome.
1. You will build strength
Let’s face it, you can get by in a lot of standing poses without using your core or upper body strength. But not in an inversion! Core strength is a must if you plan to hold yourself upside down.
We highly recommend November’s Pose of the Month, Dolphin, to prepare you for inversions. You will build a lot of upper body and core strength. You’ll also improve your shoulder and upper back mobility, especially when reaching your arms overhead. Dolphin Pose is pretty challenging so PFY teacher Michael Simpson recommends you hug a block between your elbows. “It will remind you to hug your forearms in toward center line,” says Michael. “This will keep your elbows from splaying out too much.”
2. Inversions are terrifying
Going upside down can be really scary. But it doesn’t have to be! Start small and gradually work toward more advanced inversions. Poses like Downward Facing Dog and Dolphin, November’s Pose of the Month, are fabulous safe ways to enjoy the benefits of an active inversion. You will strengthen your shoulders and core while keeping your feet on the ground. Inversions teach you to speak to your fears the same way you would reason with an overprotective mother. You appreciate her concern, but true emergencies only, please.
If you’re working toward Handstand, be patient. Start by hopping 2 inches off the floor, and focus on landing with control. As you get more comfortable, you can experiment with hopping a little higher.
3. But they make you feel happy
Going upside down increases blood flow back to your heart and your brain—this is known as venous return. It is believed that the increase in venous return also increases the amount of endorphins circulating through your blood. Endorphins make you feel happy. So as we head into the darker winter months ahead, take time to invert your body. The good news is you don’t have to hold Handstand to get the benefits. Spending 3 minutes in Legs-Up-The-Wall pose will stabilize your mood and ward off the Winter Blues.
4. Inversions are humbling
Inversions force you to leave your comfort zone. Each time you attempt a Forearm Stand, you take a risk of falling. If you lose focus for one second, you might tip over, but that’s okay. Going upside down teaches you a new perspective: non-attachment. Your yoga practice isn’t about nailing a handstand perfectly every time. Christine Joseph, Powerflow Yoga’s Director of Education and Teacher Relations, adds, “It’s about staying present no matter what’s going on and trying anyway.”
5. Going upside down is fun
For most of us, yoga has been such a life-changing experience. Our practice has nurtured us through the inevitable ups and downs of life. As such, a lot of us take our yoga practices very seriously. But don’t take your practice so seriously that you forget to have fun. Inversions teach us to laugh at ourselves and stop taking everything so personally. So you kicked up into a handstand and toppled over. Who cares? You will be that much more exhilarated when you finally do hold a handstand—even if it is only for 0.2 seconds. “It changes how you see your physical world,” adds Joseph. “It’s really cool to see things from a different perspective.”
We hope this encourages you to practice some inversions. If you’re hesitant, ask your favorite PFY teacher to spot you. And be sure to practice plenty of Dolphin Poses this month. And get ready: December’s Pose of the Month is Headstand!